One hundred people gathered on Sept. 17 at Fallen Timbers, in Honor, to praise Benzie neighbors Nancy VanderLinde and Chloe McGehee. The event, the Charlotte Robling Honoree Dinner, is a Benzie County Democratic Party tradition that recognizes people for their contributions to the community and the party.
Dan Scripps, a guest speaker and former state representative, lauded both women for their positive values and longtime commitment to helping others, which he said is a welcome antidote to the current gloomy atmosphere.
“We need to reflect on how we rise above the cynicism and despair the news of national politics breeds,” said Scripps, adding that he shares Martin Luther King Jr.’s belief that “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”
“We have to create, inspire, articulate a vision, and then go out and do the work,” Scripps said. “The result of our work may be beyond our control; people do the work not knowing how it’s going to turn out. That takes passion and commitment, and that is the antidote to the cynicism of today. Thank you, Chloe and Nancy. Your work gives me hope and optimism that things are going to get better.”
Both McGehee and VanderLinde have participated in many efforts, both partisan and nonpartisan, to strengthen the Benzie community. “When I ask, people are always willing to help out,” said McGehee, who also thanked her spouse, Keith McGhee, for his support.
McGhee is a retired social worker, and VanderLinde was a middle school teacher. VanderLinde said she felt she’s never done any major project for the local Democrats, but allowed that small things do matter: “to paraphrase Mother Teresa, you can do small things with great love.”
Traverse City Mayor Jim Carruthers also spoke, reviewing his city’s ongoing renewable energy efforts and recent re-commitments by more than 400 mayors nationwide to stick with the policies in the 2015 Paris Climate Accord, signed by virtually every nation in the world but recently rejected by President Donald Trump. Paris Accord participants are adopting clean energy sources, cutting down on climate-changing emissions, and working to limit the rise of global temperatures. They are also working to cope with the growing impacts of global warming, seen recently in the unprecedented damage caused by Category 5 Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria in the past month.
Carruthers also talked about U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow’s re-election campaign, which is currently circulating nominating petitions. “She will work to protect funding that protects the Great Lakes,” he said, “and she believes that health care is a human right. She supports ‘reinventing Michigan,’ bringing technical jobs here, and training young adults.” Carruthers added that Senator Stabenow, as ranking member of the Senate Agricultural Committee, works for policies helping farmers in Michigan and nationwide.
Susan Koenig introduced and praised VanderLinde, while Judy Baker did the same for McGehee. Party chair and emcee Jim Dulzo introduced local elected officials, including County Commissioner Cory Carland, Benzonia Township Supervisor Jason Barnard and Trustee Jim Sheets, as well as two candidates for the 2018 primary: Retired Marine Lt. Col. Matt Morgan, running for Jack Bergman’s 1st Congressional District seat, and former federal prosecutor Pat Miles, who resigned on January 20 and is running for Michigan Attorney General.
Dulzo talked about what’s new at the Democratic Party headquarters, in Honor, and introduced the organization’s membership drive. “You can spend your time complaining,” he said, “but what really matters is building networks. We have to get people elected who share our vision, so let’s all get out there and do something.”